Elephants are considered highly intelligent creatures when it comes to learning and memory, ranking among the top in the world. They have large brains composed of nearly 257 billion nerve cells. Scientists have designed experiments to test the intelligence of elephants, while some data also comes from observing their natural behavior. The examples of elephant intelligence in learning and memory can be categorized as follows:

Mirror self-recognition:

The faculty conducted an experiment on self-recognition using the Mark test technique with three Asian elephants in the zoo. They applied a colored mark on one side of the elephants’ foreheads. If an elephant looked at the mirror and displayed behavior by touching or interacting with the marked spot, it would be recorded as the elephant’s ability to recognize itself in the mirror. The results of the experiment showed that 1 out of the 3 elephants passed the Mark test, indicating its ability to recognize itself in the mirror.

Tool use:

The caretaker of the zoo observed that elephants are capable of using a branch as a tool to break it off and swat away annoying insects, both in the zoo and in the wild. The behavior of using branches or leaves to swat insects can be found in both Asian elephants and African elephants.

Problem solving:

Elephants also can use tools to grasp items that are located far away from them.


Joshua Plotnik and his team conducted an experiment on cooperative behavior among two Asian elephants. They created a large tray filled with food and attached ropes to the tray from both sides. The elephants had to pull both ropes simultaneously to slide the tray out and access the food.


The research team conducted an experiment to observe the reaction of elephants upon hearing the sound of a bee. They placed a speaker on a tree that elephants frequent during the daytime and recorded the elephants’ behaviors in response to the bee sound. The results of the experiment showed that the majority of elephants walked away from the tree upon hearing the loud buzzing sound.


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